Out into the night: Kaveh Akbar and Kim Hill

 Kim Hill and Kaveh Akbar (Photo Fergus Haywood)

Kim Hill and Kaveh Akbar (Photo Fergus Haywood)

Being asked to blog about a literary festival is like being asked to make lunch for michelin star star chefs. Luckily for you, dear reader, I've noted that espousing loud and ignorant options never stopped a talk back radio caller, and it's not going to stop me. With that confessional moment out of the way, let's continue into the opening event of LitCrawl Wellington 2018.

I arrived slightly late to Meow, due to my therapy session running a bit overtime. As an aside: why do the intelligentsia of Wellington insist on having program launches on a Thursday? It's simply impossible for me to get into anything resembling full-noise drag after a long day at the office. So I loped in, in my capital uniform: cherry doc martins, black jeans and a black puffer jacket. I did manage a swipe of sparkle lip gloss as a nod to my personal brand.

I snuggled into the back of the venue and commenced to pay attention to Kim Hill in discussion with Kaveh Akbah, a lanky, handsome, Iranian-American poet sporting a fabulous beard (I'm shamelessly swayed by a good beard).

At the risk of revealing my ignorance; this is the first time I've come across the work of Kaveh Akbah, but then again, I suspect this is also why publishers are so keen for their writers to tour their new poetry collections.

He reads some of his poetry, it's very good—to my untrained ear and mind. I don't often pursue poetry recreationally, more often it finds its way into my life at reading events, like this one, or when read on the radio, or a podcast.

I've listened to Kim Hill interview recovering alcoholics and addicts in the past and this interview follows a well beaten path. Hill probes about the 12 steppishness of the subjects abstinence, and the subject tries to dodge the question, no doubt mindful of the fellowship's pronouncement that they should "maintain anonymity at the level of press, radio and film".

I got to watch this waltz between Akbar and Hill and I can say hand on heart that Kaveh maintained his anonymity.

What was really interesting to me though, was Akbar's musings on the philosophy of writing, it's role in the world now, and his own Iranian heritage which connects him to the 14th century Persian poet Hafez. He then reflected on his own maturation as a writer with an awareness of what he is asking of his readers, which was a great insight to me.

We finish off with much enthusiastic applause from the audience, who then form an orderly queue to obtain signed copies of his full-length collection: Calling a Wolf a Wolf. I lurk around snapping iPhone photos for instagram like a paparazzo who has misplaced their telephoto lens, and then head out into the night.